Jacobs Leads Call for Transparency on Learning Loss from New York State

Government and Politics

October 5, 2022

Jacobs Leads Call for Transparency on Learning Loss from New York State

(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Chris Jacobs (NY-27) led Congressmembers Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), Joe Sempolinski (NY-23), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), and Claudia Tenney (NY-22) in calling for New York State Department of Education Commissioner Betty Rosa to release 2021-2022 Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics assessment data. Traditionally, the state has released this data in August before the start of the next school year. However, this data for the previous school year have yet to be made public.

“Around the country assessments are showing us COVID-19 caused detrimental learning loss in our students. School closures, quarantines, and remote learning left many students behind and widened the achievement gap – especially for students from traditionally disadvantaged populations,” Jacobs said. “A portion of American Rescue Plan Funding has been allocated to New York school districts to address learning loss, yet in true NYS government fashion, we have yet to get transparent answers on the state of our students’ assessments. As we work to begin our long road to academic recovery, we need a full and accurate picture of the loss that occurred in NYS students – the Commissioner must release this data immediately so academic plans can be formed and implemented effectively and expeditiously.”

"It is way past time that parents have the answers they deserve and demand. What lasting effects did our extended COVID lockdowns have on our children, and why has the NYS Department of Education not been more forthcoming with their data? We need to have all of the information so that we can do what is best for our students and their education,” Congressman Sempolinksi said.

"Albany needs to immediately release the standardized test scores for the entire state. There is no good excuse to delay this a day longer, and the further the state stalls, the more suspicious New Yorkers will understandably become that the state is trying to hide the data from the public," Congressman Zeldin said.

“I’m calling on New York to publicly release their student assessment data, so New York families have transparency,” Stefanik said. “In the face of devastating learning loss students are experiencing after authoritarian mask mandates and prolonged school lockdowns, it is evident that our students are unnecessarily far behind and schools should be focused on getting our students back our track. We already know New York’s Department of Education mismanaged their COVID dollars and used federal COVID funds to peddle racist, woke ideology at this critical time. As the most senior New York member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, I’m working to ensure full and immediate transparency, so schools can responsibly address this learning loss and equip our next generation in order to get these students back on track," Congresswoman Stefanik said. 

“Assessment data for mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) are made available for New Yorkers to review every August. However, with an election approaching, Governor Hochul withheld the data this year, in what appears to be a clear attempt to cover up the damage done by New York’s unscientific COVID mandates, which undoubtedly had a significant impact on learning. New York should make its data public now, just as it has in past years. Our children must always come first,” Congresswoman Tenney said.

The full letter sent by the Representatives to Commissioner Rosa can be found here:

Dear Commissioner Rosa,

We write to request you provide us with the Grades 3-8 English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics assessment data. We also request an explanation of the distinction between “preliminary” and “final” assessment data. It is important for the public and policymakers to have this data so we can properly understand the extent of the learning loss suffered by New York State’s students over the past two school years. Failure to release this data in a timely manner raises serious questions about the Department’s commitment to transparency. A memo from the Department of Education dated June 30 of this year stated that all final state assessment data will be publicly released sometime this fall. This is a change from previous years, in which assessment data was released in August prior to the start of New York’s school year. This is also the first time the Department has noted a distinction between “preliminary” and “final” assessment data. It is unclear however, what the actual distinction is. The results from the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress showed staggering levels of learning loss for students on the national level. Average scores in 2022 declined five points in reading and seven points in math compared to 2020. This is the largest average decline in reading since 1990 and the first ever decline in math. The results also showed worsening achievement gaps, as students who were already struggling in school or come from disadvantaged backgrounds suffered disproportionately. It is hard to believe New York State’s data does not show similar, if not worse, levels of learning loss at the state level. School districts in New York are supposed to be using a portion of the $9 billion received from the American Rescue Plan to address learning loss. For lawmakers at the federal and state level to properly assess how that money is being spent, we need to know the full scope of the problem our students and schools are facing.